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What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Can the same be said about companies?

Naming a thing can often be more difficult than making a thing; CSS classes, projects, babies. Today I’m talking about company names.

I recently heard of a local creative agency having to change their name to attract more corporate clients as they were having difficulty breaking into a specific industry that didn’t appear to appreciate a quirky name.

It got me thinking.

Speaking from our own experience, Studio Raygun is usually greeted with generally positive comments such as “I can tell you’re a creative company”. Supported by our retro-futuristic logo and brand imagery it does make sense, hopefully it portrays a picture of a youthful and exciting agency that has it’s eyes on the future. A company that a takes the work seriously, but not themselves.

Arguably, a name – any name – given enough time, advertising, marketing activity and cultural uptake can potentially stick and become successful. Imagine Google had stuck with their original name ‘BackRub’, would it have become commonplace to say “just BackRub it”, “BackRub our company name for more”, “I want to rank first on BackRub”? Probably.

Despite this, there are still some important things to consider that will help you along the way:

  • Is it descriptive? If so, should it be descriptive?
  • How does it look written down? Is it easy to spell, remember, and doesn’t create any unfortunate innuendoes.
  • How does it sound? Does it roll off the tongue or is it a bit of a mouthful? Remember, you may be answering the phone with this world for a few years to come.
  • Memorability – does it make an impact, and the right impact?
  • Does the word have any negative connotations or cultural/foreign language meanings you may not have realised? A quick Google (or BackRub) of the word, using slight variations in spelling, is a good idea.
  • Does it capture the essence or attitude of your company and staff?
  • Uniqueness – there’s a risk of adopting a common word/object that may be associated with other things. This may have a negative impact when people search for you company online, when you try to register domain names and social media accounts, as well as your ability to trademark the name in the future. A handy website to check name availability is http://namechk.com

Brand names and image is arguably less vital in business-to-business companies (or rather it plays quite a different role), than in business-to-consumer, however it’s important to know your desired position in the market place and who you are/want to be working with.

You can spend hours, days, weeks bashing your head over a company name but remember that it is not the most important thing when you’re in the service industry. Whilst first impressions are obviously very important, your reputation, quality of service and personality are key. The name should simply support this.

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